Maui Diving: How good is it?
You have started researching activities for your next Hawaii vacation because your family wants to go to the island of Maui to scuba dive, but is Maui good for scuba diving? Let me describe why Maui is not only great but spectacular for scuba diving lessons and guided tours.
I have been diving all over the world. The variety of scuba diving possibilities from one place to another is mind-boggling, especially considering that coral reefs cover less than one percent of the ocean floor. If you were to show me a series of photos from various dive sites worldwide, I might not always know Thailand from the Caribbean, even though I have done extensive diving in both places. However, I would be able to immediately identify Hawaii’s distinctive coral reef in any picture. The coral formations around the Hawaiian Islands look incredibly unique, plus more than 20 percent of Hawaiian reef fishes are found nowhere else in the world.
Maui Scuba Diving Highlights
One great thing about Maui diving is the variety of dive sites. The abundance of scuba diving around Maui and Lanaʻi spreads out all of the dive operators ensuring that even the most famous dive sites donʻt get too crowded. In contrast, the Big Island is famous for its manta ray night dive, Oahu for its wreck dives, and Kauai for its proximity to offshore dive locations. But Maui diving has the most boat and shore diving options!
Arguably Maui’s most famous dive site is Molokini Crater. This seamount is all that remains from an eruption that possibly occurred 230,000 years ago. The crescent-shaped atoll features a shallow bay and backside wall, reaching depths of 360 feet. Novice divers can swim with large schools of fish within the shallow confines of the crater. Advanced divers have the opportunity to drift dive along the backside of Molokini. Large schools of Yellow Tang, Moorish Idols, Hawaiian Triggerfish, and Bluefin Trevally make their homes on the inside reef. Look for Black Tip Reef Sharks, eels, and an octopus or two along the back wall. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Molokini was heavily visited by thousands of people each day. Heavy tourism leads to a decline in fish populations and habitat loss, partly due to human interaction with this delicate environment. Try to support small dive operations to lessen the impact.
Mala Wharf, Lahaina
Mala Wharf is hands down the best Maui diving site. The abundance of sea life at this particular location rivals any of the diving sites reached by boat. In 1992, a large wave hit this pier during Hurricane Iniki and collapsed half of the structure. Since then, decades of continued coral growth on the fallen concrete have developed into a stunning artificial reef. The maximum depth is 30 feet.
Large schools of goatfish, many Green Turtles, and White Tip Reef Sharks have made this shallow dive site their permanent home. Entry is easy during high tide, but waves or low tide can make your entry and exit challenging. It is best to hire a professional PADI guide for this site to ensure your safety and protection for the finite amount of beautiful reef.
First Cathedral Lana’i
Southeast of Lanaʻi’s Hulopoe Bay sits First Cathedral, a fantastic dive for any diver interested in impressive rock formations. First Cathedral features a large cavern, or lava tube, consisting of tunnels and passageways. A hole in the cavern’s top allows light to penetrate during the day, creating a spotlight on a large rock inside called the Altar. Smaller holes in the cavern walls create almost a stained glass effect, contributing appropriately to the dive site’s name. White Tip Reef Sharks, eels, and squirrelfish can be found inside the cavern, while lucky divers can spot frogfish and nudibranchs around the cavernʻs exterior. This site’s maximum depth is about 100 feet making this site accessible to newly certified divers and intermediate divers alike. Open Water certified divers must closely watch their depth so as not to exceed certification limits.
In 1921 a commercial fishing company built this schooner in Denmark. The Carthaginian ended up in Lahaina by 1973 when she got purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation to serve as a symbol of the whaling industry in Lahaina. She was sunk in 2005 to produce an artificial reef for Maui diving expeditions. She now provides a stunning underwater scene for Advanced divers at 97 feet, where you can find large fish and White Tip Reef sharks cruising around her 98-foot-long hull!
This particular wreck dive is a must for any shipwreck diving enthusiast. During Maui’s winter months, you can even hear male Humpback Whales singing throughout this dive! With 100 feet of depth, divers should carefully monitor no-decompression limits and ascend with ample time to fully complete a safety stop.
These are just some of the examples of the impressive dives that Maui diving has to offer. Whether you have never dived before or are an accomplished scuba diver, there are enticing aspects of Maui diving for everyone. Contact Banyan Tree Divers Maui to learn more about the scuba diving tours we offer for beginner and certified divers!